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• To work with Irish partners to create a 
dynamic model for Cross-Atlantic 
collaboration that will promote and advance 
UMass Lowell’s goals to enhance the 
student experience by providing a global 
perspective to teaching and research, while 
contributing to Irish interests through 
exchange and service 

[ University of 

.1 Massachusetts 

UMASS Lowell 


• The Irish-American Heritage Archaeological Program is part of the collaborative 
agreement that exists between UMass Lowell and Queen’s University Belfast 

• The objective of the Archaeological dig is to give students at Umass Lowell and 
Queen’s University the opportunity to uncover and document the rich cultural 
heritage of the Irish in Lowell and Ireland 

• Through this project, Irish and American students will gain a deeper 
understanding of the life of the Irish in Ireland before and after the Great 
Famine, and the role played by the Irish in the development of the United States 
during the 19 th Century 

• Seed funding was necessary to support the efforts of the archaeological excavation 
in the hope that this initial reconnaissance would produce tangible results that 
could be used to assist with the development of a full three year program 

j University of 

.1 Massachusetts 

If MASS Lowell 

Irish-American Heritage 
Archaeological Program: Phase I 

• Phase I of the project focused on determining whether archaeological strata 
survived intact at the proposed location for the Lowell excavation site, in the 
direct vicinity of St. Patrick’s Church where the original Irish Settlement 
was clustered 

• A five-day reconnaissance excavation took place August 16 th - August 20 th , 

Led by the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s University 

Belfast, Northern Ireland: 

- Dr. Colm Donnelly 

- Dr. Harry Welsh 

- Ronan McHugh 

Assisted by 6 UMass Lowell students 

Why Lowell? 

Located at the confluence of the Merrimack and Concord 
rivers to take advantage of the water, but needed to bring the 
water from the Merrimack to the mills by means of canals. 
Someone had to dig the canals... 

Canals were excavated by gangs of Yankees working 
alongside Irish labourers from Boston 

Kirk Boott, agent to the newly formed Merrimack 
Manufacturing Company, hires Hugh Cummiskey and his 
team of 30 Irish workers on 5 th April 1822 to work on the 
widening of the Pawtucket canal 

As more and more Irish were employed, they settled in an 
area of land that became known as the Acre - where by 1830 
there is a group of 400 Irish residents living there 

The Cummiskey Homestead has been located in Tyrone, 
Northern Ireland. 


. I Massachusetts 

OliASS Lowell 


St. Patrick’s Church was built in 1822 and rebuilt in 

The area in front of the church facing Suffolk Street 
was at that time laid out as a lawn, it remains that 
way to this day 

The area was a green field until 1822, then an Irish 
Shanty-Town until 1854 then it became a lawn 

Has not been built on 

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Adams Street 

1. St. Patrick's Parochial House 

2. St. Patrick's Church 

3. O'Brien Memorial 

A=Trench 1 (2mx2m) 
B = Trench 2 (2mx2m) 


Where? The Lawn in front of St. Patrick’s 

• Up to 1822 - Enclosed Farmland 

• 1822-1854 - The Irish Camp 

• 1854 to Present - Church Lawn 

The Dig: 

2 Trenches (2mx2m) to investigate what evidence - if any 
- survives for the Irish Camp 
Looking for evidence of architecture and artefacts 
associated with the settlement 

j University of 

..I Massachusetts 

UMASS Lowell 

Press Coverage of the Excavation 

• Pre-Famine Irish Settlement in Lowell, MA to be Excavated ( 

• Hoping to Unearth Irish History, They'll be Digging Again in Lowell (The Boston Globe) 

•Irish Heritage in Lowell: Excavation in Progress (WBZ-TV News) 

• Lowell Dig to Unearth Secrets of Irish Settlers (The Irish Emigrant, Boston Edition) 

• Famine Irish Shantytown Will Yield Its Secrets (Irish 

•Irish Archeologists Search For Their Countrymen In Lowell 
WBUR (National Public Radio) 

•Digging Up Roots 
(The Lowell Sun) 

Umvexsity of 





Over 1,300 artifacts recovered 



• Rosary Beads 

• Clay pipes 

• Oyster Shells 

• Animal bones 

• Nails 

• Pottery 

• Bottles 

• Metal work 



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1. Report will be prepared on the results obtained during the reconnaissance excavation at St. 

2. The Cummiskey Homestead in Tyrone: Undertake a full-scale topographic and building 


3. With the permission of St. Patrick’s parish, return to Lowell in summer 2011 to undertake 

further investigations 

4. Secure funding to enable the program to proceed: Annual 2-week excavation program - 1 

week in Lowell and 1 week in Tyrone, crewed by students from Umass Lowell and Queen’s 

University of 
! Massachusetts 
UMASS Lowell